Carl Levin: Maybe Now We Can Get U.S.-Russia Missile Defense Collaboration
Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 1:06 pm
In sharp contrast to the Lieberman, Boehner and Cantor statements is this missile-defense-shield reaction from Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who must find issuing such things to be a tiresome and unfortunate concession to the reality of being surrounded by dishonest people. I’m going to highlight the good parts.
President Obama has made a sound choice that will improve our security. The President’s decision focuses on fielding effective capabilities to defend our forward deployed force and allies in Europe against the real and existing missile threat from Iran, which consists of short- and medium-range missiles, rather than only against a potential future long-range threat. Iran already has many hundreds of short- and medium-range missiles, and has been adding more, but will not have long-range missiles for years to come.
President Obama’s decision supports NATO’s policy to address missile threats “in a prioritized manner that includes consideration of the level of imminence of the threat and the level of acceptable risk.” It also supports the security needs of our European allies, some of whom are within range of Iranian missiles today. This decision reinforces our security commitment to our European allies; it does not weaken it.
Secretary Gates has assured us that both Poland and the Czech Republic are positive about this approach and that they are being offered the opportunity to participate in this phased, adaptive missile defense architecture. We understand, specifically, that Poland is being offered a Patriot battery (their first priority) and Standard missiles for deployment on their soil.
We cannot proceed, in any event, with deployment of the previously-proposed missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic because the conditions required in our law have not been met, including ratification by Poland and the Czech Republic of agreements relating to such deployments. Moreover, that proposed system would not defend against the threat to them and other countries in Europe of short- and medium-range missiles from Iran.
The President’s decision also opens the door to missile defense cooperation with Russia, which would send a powerful signal to Iran. It could also help increase our regional missile defense capability if Russia shares missile flight data from its Armavir radar. NATO has repeatedly supported U.S.-Russian cooperation on missile defense. President Obama’s decision will not threaten Russia, and it offers an opportunity for missile defense to serve as a uniting issue, rather than a dividing one.
Now imagine that. A U.S.-Russia collaboration on missile defenses, something that hearkens back to the Reykjavik summit between Reagan and Gorbachev. Administration officials, on and off the record, have been saying all day that there isn’t any quid pro quo for scrapping a ballistic missile shield that provokes Russia for one that doesn’t. Indeed, there wouldn’t need to be any. It’s cost-free to get rid of a bone in another person’s throat, and it favorably inclines him toward what you’d like to do.
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